TLTB verifies lease issue for Savura

A Police convoy drives towards the Savura Dam property today to attend to reports of trespass by members of a landowning unit in Colo-i-Suva last Saturday. Picture: ATU RASEA

THE iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) has shed some light on the issue of the disgruntled Savura landowners with the confirmation that a special water catchment lease was indeed issued to the Government more than 50 years ago.

Responding to the claim made by the landowning units where the Suva Water Supply Catchment Area in Savura is located, the TLTB said the lease was issued to the Government in 1967.

The leased land covers a total land area of 100.8 hectares and is owned by five landowning units —mataqali Solia (Navatuvula), mataqali Rokotarotaro, mataqali Valebure, mataqali Daunivurevure and mataqali Naisagavaki.

On the question of whether compensation was paid for the standing trees since the beginning of the lease, TLTB chief executive officer Tevita Kuruvakadua said the board was working with the ministries of Lands and Forestry to verify if there was any payment done at that time.

He said although the lease was issued 52 years ago, the annual lease payment had been reviewed from $2643 previously to the present annual rate of $120,000.

“The issue of compensation claimed by the landowners need to be clarified further with the Ministry of Lands,” Mr Kuruvakadua said via a statement issued yesterday.

Landowners from the mataqali Valebure at Colo-i-Suva in Naitasiri are alleged to have attempted to close the dam last Saturday claiming unsuccessful attempts in trying to get compensated for the trees on the leased land.

Ten villagers from Colo-i-Suva had been charged with criminal trespass for allegedly entering the Savura dam premises in Wailoku.

The villagers appeared in the Nasinu Magistrates Court on Tuesday and have been bailed.

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